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Evidence doesn't support enhanced possession charges

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Because the state failed to prove that an early training center located near the defendant’s home constituted school property for purposes of enhancing drug charges, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered the man’s convictions be reduced.

In Robert A. Baker v. State of Indiana, No. 40A05-1109-CR-503, Robert Baker challenged his convictions of Class B felony possession of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school and Class C felony possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school.

At Baker’s trial, North Vernon police officer Craig Kipper, who responded to the report of a chemical odor coming from Baker’s apartment, testified that the apartment was approximately 600 feet from the Early Training Center. He said the ETC offered continuing education classes for students who wanted to get their high school diplomas.

Baker argued on appeal that the evidence doesn’t support enhancing his convictions based on the location of the ETC. The judges agreed. The state didn’t point to any evidence presented at trial that showed the ETC was a building or other structure owned or rented by a school corporation or other entity described under Indiana Code 35-41-1-24.7, nor was there evidence that any of the students enrolled in the program were school-age children and not adults or college-age individuals.

Judge Elaine Brown pointed out that previous caselaw has dictated that college and university property does not fall under the term “school property” as used under I.C. 35-41-1-24.7 to support a charge enhancement.

The appellate court ordered that Baker’s convictions be entered as Class D felonies and he be resentenced accordingly.

 

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